Canadian hemp rocks the continent

Sole provider
This is the last growing season of the last year of the 20th century. America did not grow hemp this year; her farmers will not bring string and salad oil to her sparkling markets. The often stated inability of federal officials to distinguish between hemp and pot, is a lame, dog-ate-my-homework excuse, as almost everyone else in America can tell them apart without any difficulty.

As fortress USA says NO to anything at all to do with the cannabis plant on her home turf, the creation of an All-American retro hemp industry is on hold for what’s left of the 20th century. Next century for sure!

This irrational response to hemp by our powerful neighbours to the south pushes Canada into the precarious position of sole provider of hemp in the Americas. A mighty task to perform while watching for screw-ups in the field or factory that might compromise the integrity of the crop for the future.

When HempAgro Corporation’s Nicaraguan hemp plantations were burned by gun-toting helicopter commandos last Christmas, and Canadian-born principals jailed for suspected wholesale pot farming, the entwined reputations of both Canada and hemp took a brutal beating in the world press, where questions of credibility were raised.

Because the crop was destroyed, Nicaragua never made it to the New World hemp finals. Only Canadian-grown hemp survived to harvest and the safety of the barn.

Processors got a generous head start on the upcoming continental NAFTA playoffs for raw materials. Canadian hemp of the highest quality, readily available and priced to sell, arrived to market at the same time that record low prices for traditional grain and oilseed crops stung Canadian farmers. This year many more are embracing the opportunity of becoming the most competent handlers of hemp on the continent. Maybe the door to American hemp will never open, what then?

Body Shop International buys hemp seed from Canada and sells hemp-based goodies to the US of A in over 300 retail outlets. It’s a matter of life or death for the complexions of liberty for millions of the shopping public.

It’s new, it’s true!

Canadian farmers will be growing almost three times the amount of hemp in 1999 than last year, the first commercial year. There is land and willpower to realize this dream of responsible hemp culture. The newness of hemp offers encouragement as more new fields are being planted and new hemp varieties being sown, new markets for hemp steadily puffing up while new hemp processing factories being built in several regions simultaneously, and new players are taking the gamble of growing the weed of wonder big-time.

All this newness beneath the happy sun calls for newness in administration; a new “hemp project boss” has been installed in Ottawa to keep an eye on the new commercial hemp industry. The new hemp people welcome the appointment of Mr Neils Hanson-Tripp, an inductee to Health Canada from the ministry of Agriculture and Food who, late last year, replaced the steadfast Ms Jean Peart of Dangerous Drugs Surveillance as Federal Hemp Project Boss.

We saw Hanson-Tripp in action at the Ottawa regulations meetings last year; very approachable, familiar with the dual nature of the cannabis plant, and can stay on course through the maze of regulatory details governing the cultivation of a controlled crop in the Dominion of Canada.

It was Peart who rode the hemp pony to the Senate finish line, but it is now Hanson-Tripp in the saddle, driving the hemp-rope rodeo to the last round-up: the gates of the Federal Health Minister’s final review of industrial hemp regulations, slated for 2000 AD. Perhaps many of the cumbersome reporting requirements will be relaxed at that time. This would be a welcome break by everyone involved in the resurrection of modern hemp culture.

Canadian hemp round-up

Manitoba will grow almost half of the estimated 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of Canada’s hemp crop in the 1999 season, as 125 contract farmers prepare their fields to sow about 4800 hectares of hemp this spring. This represents a generous three-fold increase over 1998 levels.

Consolidated Growers and Processors (CGP) a European/American investment group with offices in Canada, is building two new processing factories in Manitoba. One factory will be equipped to process fibre from Manitoba stalks, and the second factory will process hemp seed into edible oil and protein rich, dehulled meal.

CGP promises to buy all the stalks and seed the farmers on contract can deliver to their factories for three years. This supportive gesture will go far in bringing market-driven assurance to Manitoba farmers investing heavily into the hemp program for the long haul ahead.

CGP will build its first hemp factory in the town of Dauphin, 300 miles north of Winnipeg. Dauphines are pleased to see a new $15 million building rising up on 60 hectares of static land, bringing almost 300 hempen career jobs to town. They’re building roads and upgrading services in anticipation of the cool new hemp factory.

CGP hopes to have both facilities up and running to capacity by 2001. They have plans to process 90,000 tonnes of hemp stalks and 14,000 tonnes of hemp seed a year, the output of about 8000 hectares of Manitoba farmland, all for export to the hemp-free USA.

CGP has attracted many regional farmers signing on for the great hemp advance, and was offered an additional 2,000 hectares of farmland contracts in case more hemp was required. Approved varieties of hempseed are in short supply , due to so many farmers wanting to sow hempseed, along with other humans furiously purchasing this particularly nutritious Canadian-grown hempseed for commercial culinary application.

Saskatchewan grew about 200 hectares of hemp last year, and will plant between 1200 and 1600 hectares of hemp this year.

Alberta will be growing 100 hectares of hemp in 1999, but details are not available at this busy time of planting. Fine hemp was grown in Alberta during the 30’s, until prohibition shut it all down.

Nova Scotia grew 10 hectares of hemp in 1998, the ‘federal minimum acreage’ permitted, and will grow a total of 400 hectares in 1999. Ambitious regional entrepreneurs plan to produce enough seed to grow 3200 hectares of hemp within five years. Farmers are determined to restore the Nova Scotia hemp industry that in its heyday produced the very finest hemp cordage in the world.

With or without government assistance, Nova Scotia hemp farmers will create a regional hemp hub zone during the upcoming five-year plan to deliver their premium fibre to world markets. Support for hemp in the maritimes is, considering everything, pretty much a total vote in its favour.

Reliable projections for the 1999 hemp season on Prince Edward Island are unavailable, but Canada’s smallest province will grow considerably more hemp than last year; likely for on-island use as horse bedding and specialty mulch. Stay tuned.

British Columbian hemp hopefuls assembled in Coquitlam last March to receive the travelling Health Canada hemp quiz show, moderated by Hansen-Tripp and his staff of hemp hawks. Farmers learned about streamlined agricultural reporting, and were assured of faster, better license processing all morning. In the afternoon, local police learned about their new role as guardians of hemp in a pot-soaked province of secret spliff gardeners. An educated police force is a better police force. Why didn’t we do this long ago? Think of how the war on drugs would have turned out if the police had been told more than “bust those people!”

Hemp nuts

The dehulled “hemp nut” is a sweet, yummy meal resembling the subtle hazelnut for flavour and the luxurious macadamia nut for texture. It is mild and chewy like almond meal. Soft, firm ? not at all gritty like peanuts or sunflower seeds. A premium snack, palatable at any point of production, unlike the stale and overpriced eco-gravel hemp seed treats of early 90’s vintage. Watch out for the next generation of hemp/granola bars with New World grown hemp nut in every bite.

The delicious “hemp nut” is now available in commercial quantities. Kenex began shipping dehulled hemp seed meal from their 1998 harvest to California by the multi-thousand kilogram load, where Richard Rose of Hemprella (Rella Good Cheese) will transform it into a galaxy of edible delights to be marketed nationwide. Other US processors who had formerly purchased supplies from China or Eastern Europe have also ordered Canadian seed for specialty purposes.

I visited the Kenex hemp seed research station in Pains Court, Ontario, not far from the Laprize family hemp works. Hemp seed food engineers, working out of a converted popcorn factory, have made great advances in dehulling the seed ? taking away the hard shell with a succession of food-prep operations. A seed that was one-third oily protein before its little crabshell jacket was removed, comes out the other end weighing in at one-half oily protein! All edible, all available, all yummy!

In this dehulled form , the hemp oil oxidizes rapidly. The meal is nitrogen-gas packed in food-grade barrels, and kept cool and dark until required. No preservatives need be added, as long as the contents are kept refrigerated and consumed within a reasonable time after popping the freshness seal.

This is high grade protein, it’s a good fuel to get inside you and there have been no allergies to hemp nut to anyone’s knowledge. Try it ? you’ll like it.

Canada shipped 27,200 tonnes of her 1998 hemp seed harvest to American processors. Most was pressed for oil, some was fed directly to animals and human beings, all of it was appreciated.

The last year of the 20th century will see lots of hemp being grown in Canada, and it looks like there will be no holding Canada’s hemp crop back with mystical restraints scripted long ago by poorly-informed office staff.

Until the US has her day in court, Canada will reap the rewards of being the sole provider of industrial hemp in the Americas.